EDMONTON – Alberta’s NDP government jumped to defend its new carbon tax from detractors on New Year’s Day as consumers got their first taste of some of the new prices they’ll be paying in 2017.
Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman addressed reporters at the legislature on Sunday, where she stressed the link between the tax and getting pipelines to tidewater approved.
Hoffman notes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was clear when he approved Kinder Morgan’s expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline in November that the decision would not have happened without Alberta’s climate plan.
Gasoline at the pumps rose 4.5 cents per litre on Jan. 1, prompting an Opposition Wildrose MLA to post a picture of himself on Twitter on New Year’s Eve filling jerrycans before the price jumped.
Home heating and business fuels go up, too.
Hoffman called on Albertans who have opposed the government’s climate plan to come together for the sake of seeing the Trans Mountain pipeline to completion.
“It’s the best way for us to protect for the environment and protect jobs and get pipelines built,” Hoffman said.
“While it’s four-and-a-half cents today, it’s billions of dollars for our economy and for economic diversification that are crucially important for Albertans and Alberta communities.”
Alberta isn’t the only province where green initiatives were expected to affect prices starting on New Year’s — Ontario’s cap and trade program to curb carbon emissions also kicked in.
The plan, which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 15 per cent below 1990 levels within four years, will drive the price of gasoline up 4.3 cents per litre and increase the cost of home heating by up to $6.70 a month.
The Alberta government estimates the average family will pay $443 more in 2017, but opposition members say it will be at least double that as the carbon tax dominoes through the economy and consumers pay for it through higher prices.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in an emailed statement Sunday that the price of everything is rising at a time when Albertans need a break.
“The vast majority of Albertans do not support this carbon tax, no matter how much money the NDP waste on ads promoting it or how many ministers they send out to spin a job-killing tax,” Jean said.
The Alberta government has another scheduled a media availability on Monday where Environment Minister Shannon Phillips is scheduled to talk about the levy, rebates and further steps.